Memorials were growing for Heath Gumm, a 32-year-old Colorado sheriff’s deputy who was gunned down while responding an assault call. Gumm was remembered for his calm and professional demeanor and his fair and friendly personality.
Friends and family – including those who played hockey with Gumm in high school and after it – stressed that Heath Gumm was exactly the kind of public servant the public needs: Fair. Kind. An all around decent person. Now, the Denver-area community is mourning his death, and there has been an outpouring of support for Gumm’s family, including the wife he leaves behind.
He had worked for the Adams County Sheriff’s Department since 2012. Gumm was remembered as a man who “loved law enforcement.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Heath Gumm Was Remembered as a ‘Kind Man Protecting Our Streets
Family members, teachers, and loved ones say that Heath Gumm all praise Gumm’s professionalism and kind personality. They say that he was the “antithesis” of negative stories in the news about police officers.
“We hear so much today about bad and corrupt officers of the law, racism and excessive force. Heath was the antithesis of all of that. He was the kind of man you wanted out there protecting our streets,” Gumm’s cousin, Ryan Carpenter, told Fox 31. “He was kind, fair, funny and friendly to everyone. He was a an amazing husband, son, brother, friend and officer. Our family is thankful for the outpouring of love for him from metro Denver and beyond.”
He played for the Fighting Nemos Hockey Club, which memorialized him in similar terms on Facebook, writing, “It is with great sadness that we inform our fans and followers of the loss of defenseman Heath Gumm #17 who gave his life in service to his community. No words can describe how we are all feeling. Heath was not just a teammate, he was a friend, he was family, he was our brother. Deputy Gumm played hockey like he lived his life, full of fun, passion, toughness, and with a little bit of goofiness mixed in.”
The Adams County Sheriff’s Department wrote affectionately on Twitter: “There is a story behind this, that we will soon share. Deputy Gumm you will forever be known to us as #gummball.”
2. Gumm, Who Played Hockey in High School, Was Remembered For His ‘Great Sense of Humor’
Heath Gumm was a 2004 graduate of Mullen High School in Denver, Colorado. A school alumni page memorialized him on Facebook, writing, “Special acknowledgment of Heath is being made at today’s all-school Mass in the Rilko Chapel at Mullen.” In high school, Gumm played hockey.
He was remembered for his “great sense of humor” by a friend who posted a tribute on Facebook.
Gumm’s high school hockey coach wrote on Facebook that he was tired of the “lack of respect for life. “I had the honor of coaching officer Heath Gumm at Mullen High School. Heath was gunned down in the line of duty last night. I’m tired… Tired of the lack of respect for life. RIP Heath,” he wrote.
3. Deputy Gumm Is Survived By His Wife, Natasha & Comes From a Family of Firefighters
Heath Gumm leaves behind a wife, Natasha. The couple did not have children. He hails from a family with a long legacy of service, mostly in firefighting, according to The Denver Post.
“Gumm grew up in a family of first responders, most of them firefighters. His father, James Gumm, is a retired West Metro Fire Protection District engineer,” the newspaper reported. Donations came be made to Gumm’s family through the Sheriff’s Department’s foundation at adcosheriffsfoundation.org.
According to posts on Facebook, Gumm’s wife works as a nurse. “I found out today that deputy Gumm was the husband of one of my fellow PCU nurses at Lutheran Medical Center,” wrote a friend on Facebook. “People dedicate their lives to making the world a better place, and lives are shattered over senseless acts of violence in cases like this. Devastated does not even begin to describe it. This is the best place to donate. Anything helps. 😢 We love you, Natasha!”
4. The Sheriff Shared a Letter That Captured Gumm’s Calm Approach as a Police Officer
In December, the Adams County Sheriff’s Department shared a letter that a woman wrote describing Gumm’s helpful demeanor. The letter captures the way in which Heath Gumm served the community. It reads:
Dear Sheriff McIntosh:
My husband, son and I wanted to let you know how professional and helpful along with being very kind Sgt. R. Hannah and Deputy H.M. Gumm were today when the UHaul trailer my son was towing lost its tire while he was driving on 72nd towards Raritan. Fortunately the tire did minimal damage to a plastic sheet that was part of a lanai area at a house on the corner of 72nd and Raritan and there was no vehicular incident involving the actual UHaul trailer and my son’s vehicle. Sgt. Hannah and Deputy Gumm assisted in insuring the safety of ongoing traffic while at the same time ensuring that my son and his vehicle with the UHaul trailer got safely removed from danger to a parked location and attempted to reach the homeowner. In these times that we live in with so much adversity and hostility, we wanted to relay to you a positive message regarding these officers who also were assisted by some neighborhood gentlemen who were of different ethnicities and everyone was just willing to help make sure things went right and were resolved safely.
Thank you so much for having such great officers working for our Adams County Sheriff’s department.
Michelle Traugutt and family
In a press conference after Gumm died, the Adams County Michael McIntosh brought up the letter, saying, “His approach was so calm and professional, this mother was moved to write us a letter. You can imagine from the past five years there are a lot of stories like this about Deputy Gumm.”
5. Heath Gumm Was Shot in the Chest After Responding to an Assault Call
The tragedy unfolded at 6:58 p.m. on January 24 as deputies responded to an assault in progress in the 8700 block of Dawson Street in Adams County, Colorado, according to a press release from the Adams County Sheriff’s Department. Once on the scene, they discovered the suspect had fled. Gumm was wearing a bulletproof vest but the fatal shot “entered through an unprotected arm hole.”
They learned the suspect descriptions and contacted a male who matched one of them. “The suspect ran from deputies, leading them behind a house in that area. When deputies caught up to the male, the male pulled out a handgun and started to shoot at our deputies. Striking one of the deputies in the chest. Suspect took off on foot, later being located and taken into custody,” the release said. Gumm was the deputy shot in the chest.
“It is with incredible sadness that we report that our deputy was transported and pronounced dead at the hospital. We are currently looking for the two additional suspects that were involved with this incident,” said the Sheriff’s Department in the January 24 news release. “The only descriptions we were given by our witnesses were, two light skinned black males or dark skin Hispanic males dressed in all black clothing.”
The sheriff’s department called them “potentially armed and dangerous suspects” and asked people to keep Gumm’s family and wife in their thoughts and prayers. One of the suspects has been identified as Dreion Martise Dearing, 22, according to KVDR-TV. He has a previous arrest record for armed robbery.